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Although other elements do form a variety of molecular structures, carbon has a unique tendency to form a very wide variety of long molecular chains and rings that form the basis for organic compounds (with hydrogen and oxygen) that at some level of complexity begin to self-replicate.

It has been speculated that some element other than carbon could be used as a basis for the kind of complex molecules that are thought to be required by life. Silicon in particular is sometimes suggested. since it (like carbon) is capable of forming up to four covalent bonds per atom.

However, it's not energetically favorable for silicon to bond to another silicon instead of oxygen, meaning complex molecules like you get with carbon ... and which are probably necessary for life... are not likely.

For a really full treatment of the subject, I recommend the Isaac Asimov essay "The One and Only" which appears in his essay collection The Tragedy of the Moon.

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โˆ™ 2013-10-28 02:53:16
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Q: Could life that is not carbon based exist somewhere in the universe?
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Could life exist somewhere in the universe that is not carbon based?

Possibly, but no such life is known yet.

Could life that is not carbon based exist somewhere in the universe - 46k?

COULD? Yes. The universe is an enormous place, and we've seen only a tiny sliver of it. DOES? We don't know yet.

What percent of organisms on earth are considered carbon-based?

All life on Earth is carbon based this is because carbon bonds with other elements, especially oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen. It is often assumed in astrobiology that if life exists somewhere else in in the universe, it will also be carbon-based. ---- 100%

What element is the backbone of a hydrocarbon molecule?

Carbon forms the backbone of biology for all life on Earth. Complex molecules are made up of carbon bonded with other elements, especially oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, and carbon is able to bond with all of these because of its four valence electrons. It is often assumed in astrobiology that if life exists somewhere else in the universe, it will also be carbon based. This assumption is referred to by critics as carbon chauvinism.

Do you believe that there could be life on other planets?

Anything is possible ! Even from an early age - I refused to believe this is theonlyplanet in the entire universe that has life on it. The trouble is - scientists are obsessed with searching for 'carbon-based lifeforms' - when they should be looking for signs ofanyintelligent life, not necessarily carbon-based !

Why is all life carbon based?

Carbon makes the kind of bonds useful for the chemistry of life, and makes four of them. So does silicon, but temperatures have to be extremely high by our standards for silicon to act like carbon. Of course, somewhere out there could be a silicon fellow explaining that carbon works like silicon, but only works at a range of extremely low temperatures!

Why is silicon-based life more likely to occur than neon-based life and aluminum-based life?

Silicon is very common in the universe and is shares almost all the qualities of carbon.

Where can you find carbon?

Carbon is one of the most common elements present in the known universe. Life on earth is composted of carbon based lifeforms. However silicon oxygen and hydrogen are some of the most common elements found in space.

What is the meaning of theories of the origin of the universe?

The origin of the universe is just that - a theory. We can only speculate how universe began - based on the knowledge we have up to now. There may be other factors - that could change our perspective on how the universe began - yet to be discovered !

What is a good name for a fan character universe based off of Kirby?

fANTOM that could be a name

How could two universes collide to cause the big bang when there is only one universe?

This theory is based on there being more than one universe, i.e. That our universe exists as part of a larger Multiverse

What is carbon based molecule?

A carbon based molecule is a polymer. Edit: A carbon based molecule does not have to be a polymer, although some polymers are carbon based. For example methane - CH4 is carbon based and not a polymer. Carbon based molecules are called organic compounds.

Who made carbon?

Carbon was not made by anyone. [Categories indicate this as a science question and not a question of faith-based cosmology.] Carbon is the 6th most abundant element in the universe, and it was discovered in pre-historic times, probably at first in its form as charcoal. It was named 'carbon' by Lavoisier in 1789.

Where did the teletubbies come from?

Based on canonical fiction, Teletubbyland. But my theory is, they might actually have been derived from an unidentified species somewhere in our Universe. No offense to people who don't believe in aliens.

What is a carbon based molecule?

Carbon Based molecules are ones that have one or more carbon to carbon bonds in them.

What are carbon based molecules?

Carbon based molecules are those that have one or more Carbon to Carbon bonds in them, also known as Organic molecules. There are a lot of them.

Are inorganic molecules carbon based?

No, inorganic molecules are not carbon based.

Why do scientists believe that most life in the universe is based on carbon?

Because that's all we're familiar with. Hard to conceive of life based on something not similar to us. They're probably wrong

Are most molecules found in the giant molecular clouds are based on silicon?

False...The most abundant molecule in the Universe is Carbon Monoxide(CO), aside from the Hydrogen Molecule(H2)

What substances make up the living things?

All known living things are carbon based life forms, although it is theorized other forms may exist in the universe.

Is uranium carbon-based?

Uranium is a chemical element, not a compound carbon-based.

Are plants carbon based lifeform?

Yes everything living is carbon based.

What two categories in chemicals are based on carbon content?

Two categories of chemicals are based on carbon ?

Are bugs carbon-based?

All life on Earth is carbon based, including bugs.

What do you call compounds that are carbon based?

'Organic' applies to all carbon-based compounds.